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Cigna to use AI to track whether patients are taking their medication

U.S. health insurer Cigna will start using artificial intelligence to track patients' drug intake and assess whether they are complying with their prescribed treatment for chronic diseases including diabetes and heart conditions.

The tool, called Health Connect 360, was created by Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefits manager that merged with Cigna in a $67 billion dollar deal that closed last year. Health Connect 360 relies on four sources of information including pharmacy claims, medical, lab and biometric data, collected from digital health devices to give pharmacists and doctors a timely picture of patients condition. People with diabetes who opt in to the service wear connected glucose meters and blood pressure cuffs to engage with Cigna.

"Imagine the power of a pharmacist who has a 360 view of a patient, where they see that in the last month they were adherent in taking their medication, but their blood glucose levels are still elevated, or low," said Snezana Mahon, vice president and clinical product manager at Express Scripts. "That gives them the ability, within minutes, to check in with the patient and better manage them."

The objective is to coordinate health care and reduce costs by better managing patients, Express Scripts said.

More than 36% of patients living with diabetes are "non-adherent" to their medications, according to Express Scripts. For every diabetic person who takes their medication as prescribed, roughly $2,500 is saved in health care costs.

"At the end of the day, money is being saved to payers and members when the patient stays adherent," Mahon said. "There is no complication of the disease, like kidney challenges or foot issues, which could require a costly ER visit or hospitalization and other unnecessary management."

Patients skipping expensive prescriptions 02:29

One in eight Americans say the high cost of prescription drugs causes them to skip doses or delay refilling prescriptions for heart disease medication, according to the American Heart Association. Health Connect 360 helps those patients who say they can't afford drugs for a variety of conditions identify cheaper alternatives, according to Express Scripts.

"Some patients didn't even know they could save $90 every three months by switching to an alternative pharmacy across the street. These types of things can really help somebody who needs those dollars," Mahon said. 

Health Connect 360 was tested on a group of 500,000 members and will be made fully available in January 2020. 

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